Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Cooking and Cleaning

I do not have time to mess with writing a blog today. The grass is growing faster than I can keep up with it. And the chickens are growing out of their lodging so I need to build a bigger chicken coop. Plus, the cleaning lady is coming tomorrow and you know what that means: I have to clean the house. People always laugh at this idea but it’s perfectly rational: In order for her to clean anything she has to be able to actually find a surface first.

After all my parties (plus dinner for the neighbors on Saturday) my life has calmed down to watching other people’s news on facebook and folks I have to tell you, even that hasn’t been too exciting: you people need to step it up a bit. We even had an uneventful Memorial Day weekend. Holidays are always so tame when they don’t call for fireworks.

About the biggest event this week is that our Bible Study leader broke her foot. One of the other ladies in the class organized meals for Linda and called me. That gave me chance to test my casserole skills, which are basically nonexistent at best. I have never been a casserole woman.

I also know deep in my heart that Linda and Henry don’t have real meals at home. Nobody does anymore, especially when it’s just two people. Seriously. After all those years of trying to provide healthy meals for growing children we have just flat run out of steam at this point. Plus, the only growing folks my age do is the bad kind so we try to eat as little as we can hold ourselves to. People my age have about two choices for their evening meal: cereal or popcorn. Sometimes we’ll throw on the feedbag and have both. Otherwise, we go out to eat.

So I knew Linda and Henry are going to be eating much better than they usually do for while but that’s the way we play the game here in the South. One of the many things I love about being a Southern woman is the way we will cook a complete meal for somebody at the drop of a hat. So we all are signed up to cook for Linda and Henry whether they want us to or not.

And did I mention that Henry is a Methodist minister? No pressure or anything, but you can only imagine how many casseroles Linda has seen in the last 40 years. So we’re all dragging out the recipe books and cooking like there’s no tomorrow.

After much thought I finally came up with Chicken and Dressing casserole. Then that great old Southern specialty for this time of year: some fresh green beans (from a friend’s garden) with new potatoes (from my garden) with onion and bacon and topped with about half a stick of butter.

By coincidence the lady coming to clean my house also cleans Linda’s house. And that reminds me of a blog I wrote a while back about Cleaning the Pastor’s House. Pardon me if you’ve read this before.

Our pastor’s wife once had a horrible asthma attack, so bad she ended up in ICU. There had been a horrible dust storm in Oklahoma and the dust was blowing as far south as Texas. The hospital told Ron they were having such a rash of asthma attacks from the dust that Wanda got the last ventilator in the hospital.

When I called him to ask what I could do to help, his request was for me to assemble an army of women to check his house for any allergens that might possibly be triggering her asthma. This is also known as “dust.”

Yes, dear hearts, we had permission, indeed, a specific request—to examine the preacher’s house for dust.

I always refer to this incident as “The Church Ladies Go to Heaven.”

We loaded up dust rags, vacuum cleaners, mops and bifocals and headed out determined to find every speck of dust in that house if it hare-lipped Hades, all the while knowing we wouldn’t find anything because we knew Wanda was a better housekeeper than any of us. But it was an exercise in love more than cleaning.

And we didn’t even need to use the “drop and glance” method where you reach down to the floor like you’re picking up your purse then glance up close and sideways at the coffee table top to see if it’s dusty. No, no, my friends—we had permission to look for dust. Boldly, bluntly,  in the open light. 

The sole moment of excitement was when someone yelled out “Oh My God!” and we all scurried into the kitchen expecting to find a dried up dead mouse or maybe some mold or an old Pop Tart. We found Dana standing on a kitchen chair in front of the refrigerator: “Even the top of her refrigerator is clean!”

Let me tell you, I have never in my life known anyone who regularly cleans the top of their refrigerator. I suspected that was what caused the asthma attack. All that cleaning stirred up enough dust to bring it on. Just another reason for me to hold off on a lot of heavy-duty cleaning. It’s hazardous to your health.

I will leave you with that today and go post my casserole recipe to my food blog.

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